Google Will Start Mapping Pollution The Same Way They Map Streets

The more data the merrier

The latest news with Google’s Street View cars isn’t about mapping for its eventual autonomous successors, or even taking new photos of the world: it’s about pollution.

Environmental monitoring company Aclima announced a partnership with Google Tuesday, to deploy Street View cars that measure a wide array of pollutants in the air. The cars will now use sensors developed by Aclima to measure nitrogen dioxide, black carbon, ozone and particulate matter, amongst others. The data isn’t being published as of now, but Google’s lead on the Aclima partnership, Karin Tuxen-Bettman, told NPR that it will be made available on Google Earth and other tools in the future.

Initial tests by the two companies were carried out in August 2014, when three Street View cars tested Denver’s metro area during a study for NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency. The cars drove for 750 hours, plotting 150 million data points, and sensed chemicals like carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitric oxide, and methane. Aclima created a detailed profile of Denver’s pollution throughout the day, and their next efforts will focus on testing the San Francisco Bay Area.

A look at Aclima’s “Day in the Life of the City” graphic. Aclima/ Screenshot

Google has worked with Aclima in the past indoors as well; 21 Google offices are outfitted with an array of sensors, and process 500,000,000 points of indoor environmental quality data every day.

This partnership also comes on the heels of a Google pledge to reduce its own environmental impact. The company joined 12 other industry leaders in signing the American Business Act on Climate Pledge on Monday, pledging to power its Bay Area headquarters on 100 percent renewable energy and reduce water consumption.

You can watch more about the 2014 Denver pollution survey here: